Top ETA leader arrested in France
Sunday, 28 October 2012
MADRID: French police have arrested a top leader of the Basque separatist group ETA in eastern France, the Spanish interior ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
Izaskun Lesaka, one of "the three main leaders" of the banned organisation, was arrested during a raid by an elite French police unit at a hotel in the town of Macon, near the city of Lyon, it said.
She was arrested with a man, also described as an ETA member. Although the statement did not give his identity, he was named in the Spanish media as Joseba Iturbe Otxoteka.
Both of them were in possession of weapons.
Spain's El Mundo newspaper said Izaskun Lesaka was the head of ETA's military wing. She had been on the run since 2005 and was sentenced to seven years in France in January.
Born in Pamplona in 1975, she often used to stay in hotels and small bed and breakfasts to avoid detection.
The arrests are a new blow to the Basque separatist organisation, which announced a year ago that it had abandoned violence in its 40-year fight for an independent homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France. ETA's armed struggle has claimed more than 800 lives.
While vowing to abandon violence, ETA has refused to disband and disarm, though it has only dozens of active members left.
ETA is on the EU and US terror group lists. (AFP)